“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice (Phil. 4:4).” As a person who has struggled with life’s trials I have always found this particular passage difficult. How can you just tell a person who is depressed to simply rejoice? One that is weighted down with the troubles of this world does not just simply wake up one morning and all the troubles are gone. Joy is not just a switch that a sad person forgets to flip each morning. True happiness is much more than just smiling every morning. One can do that, put on a façade and still be completely miserable. And when they do such things, what makes them different from the Pharisees who made certain that outwardly they appeared clean, but whose insides were filth. The imposter is no better. He cannot just pretend to be happy. Sure, he might fool his parents, his employer, his children, maybe even his spouse, but he cannot fool God. God knows whether such persons have true joy. Now, before I move on any further, let me add this disclaimer. I know that there are those that suffer from genuine chemical imbalances. There are those whose bodies do not create the correct endorphins to make their brain function correctly. These people need to see a doctor to get on the right track. (It is no different than a person who takes medication to make certain their heart is functioning correctly). With that said, most people do not suffer from this type of depression. Sure, medications are given to them to “jump start” the happiness, but until that which is causing the unhappiness is dealt with, real joy cannot be found. The person will not get better. Again, if a person has a broken leg, they can take pain meds to deal with the pain, but no amount of drugs will fix that leg. It takes setting it, casting it and staying off of it until the healing process begins. Likewise, most that suffer from a lack of joy do not need mediation, they need to deal with why they are unhappy. And until that happens, happiness will never be theirs.
In the book of Philippians Paul speaks of joy or rejoicing rather frequently. The words themselves appear in 13 verses (and 17 total uses). This does not even include the verses surrounding these uses that further explain what Paul meant when he spoke of having joy. Whereas I Peter is a book written to teach us how to suffer as a Christian, and I John is a book to teach us how to love, and I Corinthians is a book to teach us how to get along with one another, Philippians is a book of joy. In its pages it instructs that Christian on where real joy and happiness comes from. When Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice” in Phil. 4:4 he did not pull that out of a hat and think it merely sounded like a good idea to quickly throw that in there before he concluded the lesson. The act of rejoicing in the Lord is the concluding statement of his whole letter. The rest of the book helps us to understand how we can do it. Let us look at a couple of passages that teach us how to be happy.
1. Paul found joy in the faith of others (Phil. 1:4-7). He knows how much he labored among them. He knows how much they have grown. He knows how much they have suffered because of their faith. Brethren, this shows us that joy does not come from focusing upon self, but upon others. We should find joy when we see a brother or sister in Christ growing. Every time we see one of our young Christians leading a song or reading the scriptures, or leading a prayer, even if it is not our kid, we should find joy in their growing faith.
2. Paul found joy in the spreading of the gospel (Phil. 1:18). Paul was in danger of being imprisoned at this time (Phil. 1:17), but did not let that ruin his joy. Why? There are souls in prison that need the gospel too. We therefore, need to find joy in the teaching of the Gospel unto others.
3. Paul found joy in the unity of the church (Phil. 2:1-8). In verse 2 Paul encouraged the saints in Philippi to make his joy complete by being united. Likewise, joy can be found in us when we make the efforts to create unity in the church here in Grinnell.
4. Paul found joy in the judgment day (Phil. 2:14-18). Such an odd thing to find joy in. I think many of us don’t find comfort in judgment, but for those that have been blameless (Phil. 2:15), joy on the judgment day can be found. Paul’s joy was not found awaiting justice in this life. It was found in awaiting justice from God. Likewise, if we expect temporal justice to bring us joy, we will be disappointed.
5. Paul found joy in Christ (Phil. 3:1, 3). Paul was not interested in the joys that could be had in this life. His joys were found in what the life to come has to offer (Phil. 3:14). I am firmly convinced that the biggest reason people are unhappy today is because their focus is all wrong. This world is filled with sorrow, and many reasons to not be happy. But the one to come, when it does come, well every tear shall be dry (Rev. 21:4). Find your joy my friends. Rejoice always. -WTK
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How Do I Always Rejoice?
Volume 4 Issue 24